Saturday, June 26, 2010

Up in the air

Flying into a shitstorm by Pants

The sheer volume of political shenaniganery of the last few days has given me a perpetual headache - and a larger than average phone credit, er, deficit. Sorry, we poor people have to budget everything. I will return to the subject of politics soon as it seems to have plenty of juice left in it and I have at last found something in Australia to be interested in. I was afraid I was going to be snap frozen in 1965 there for a moment. But today I just wanted to talk about something idiotic. Here's a little Pants tip for you. It's possible to lock onto the very finest idiocy to be found anywhere in the world at any time by simply googling 'Ryanair'.

Everyone's favourite post-apocalyptic fantasy of an airline is forever finding new and inventive ways to make headlines. It's an interesting service they offer. You pay them 99p and they lock you in a tin box with lots of screaming kiddies and torture, starve and mug you for an indefinite period then deposit you at an airfield which is hopefully reasonably close to the border of a country you wish to visit. Much better value than paintball.

Faced with slowly escalating tension occasioned by a four-hour tarmac wait at Glasgow's Prestwick Airport and passengers, many of them children, getting a little thirsty and peckish what did Ryanair staff do? They considered the barrage of refreshment trolleys containing food and drink they had lined up specifically for this eventuality of course. But ah, in regulatory speak, because the trolleys have alcohol on them, this makes them technically 'a bar'. Airline rules prohibit the 'opening of a bar' until the plane is in the air because, clearly, it is much safer to have people getting drunk while the plane is flying around than if it is parked on the ground.

No problem. Someone just called the authorities and got permission to remove the couple of bottles of booze off the top of the trolley effectively 'de-barring' it, right? Well, possibly, but since it didn't happen, I'm guessing not. So, with that option scuppered they moved on down the list, right? There's a contingent of ground staff, most of whom presumably have functioning legs. There's airport catering and there's an entire food court a few feet away. A few phone calls, a couple of signed chits and no deaths from dehydration, right?

Apparently not. Faced with a dilemma rivalling that of the good burghers of Leningrad during the Siege, the staff seemingly became catatonic with the enormity of it all. Fortunately, the passengers provided the slap of reality in the form of a threatened but sadly unspecified 'mutiny'. So someone made an executive decision and broke out the trolley - booze and all, right?

Err, no. They called the police. It is nice to know you can rely on the cabin crew to make calm, logical decisions in a crisis isn't it? So, the police told them to stop being so daft and break out the wee trolleys, yes? Err, again, no. They sent a response team to WH Smith to buy water and chocolate for all the passengers, and they paid for it themselves. If you have shares in Ryanair, I congratulate you. You have made a canny investment. This airline will never waste any of your money on preventing little children from suffering.

Prestwick Airport's slogan is,

Pure dead brilliant

They might want to rethink the 'dead' part if they plan to continue with Ryanair.

To be fair Ryanair is not the only airline making headlines this week in Britain for reasons of newsworthy idiocy. British Airways has been in court after a male passenger sued it for treating him like a 'child molester'. Mirko Fischer was told he could not change seats with his pregnant wife as this would place him next to an unaccompanied male child and the airline 'has a policy' disallowing this. You never know what a man will get up to surrounded by hundreds of people and with his wife sitting right beside him. Isn't that just a tragedy waiting to happen? Mr Fischer won his case and donated his settlement to charities who support the victims of real child molesters. You know you've completely lost it as a culture when you need a lesson in common sense from someone who hails from Luxembourg.